On the wall by my desk at home are two Campaign leaving pages from when I left the magazine previously, in 2005 and 2014. It’s testament to how much Campaign has meant to me that I kept returning – a drug, of sorts.
I left space on the wall for one more leaving page as nothing lasts forever, and it will now be filled, although the memories are fuller still.
When I tell people that I have decided to do something else, they ask me what I'll miss most about working at Campaign.
The answer is tickets to England international rugby games. But, joking aside, this is closely followed by some of the people that I’ve met and the work that they have created. So many funny, intelligent people – and, at its best, such an exhilarating ride that, mostly, I’ve loved.
The thrill of being "in the know" is intoxicating: the game-changing stories that we broke over the past two decades, such as Omnicom buying Adam & Eve; the profiles I’ve written, such as of the late Sumner Redstone; the opinion pieces, such as the demise of Rapier; the rigour of the School Reports; and the fun (as well as the annual Campaign Darts Tournament, of course). A real defining moment was working on the Campaign 50th anniversary issue – something that will live with me forever.
Love has been in rather shorter supply of late. No-one needs reminding that the past 12 months have been incredibly tough for the industry as a whole, and no-one has been immune from its impact.
And yet, from this uncertainty, many people and agencies have acted and behaved in ways that previously would have been unthinkable but perhaps are an indication that change was needed.
There has also been a whole new wave of agency start-ups, some born of necessity, but all with their eyes on the future. It’s where my eyes are firmly fixed, too. Because of this, I’ve no doubt that the celebrations for Campaign’s 60th will be as big as those for the 50th.
In my two decades (on and off) on Campaign, I didn’t always get it right. But it’s mostly been thrilling – having the opportunity to provoke and cajole and encourage was a privilege that I always took seriously, even if there was some mischievous fun to be had along the way (and apologies to fans of pinky rings and fucking red trousers, but really...).
Ultimately, perhaps, the polemical sort of journalism I was brought in to write, to help stimulate debate, belongs to an era as different as the headline on one of my Campaign leaving pages that reads “Jezz Lee is a wanker” (and I’m sure was said with love… probably).
And as my final – and slightly self-indulgent – Campaign column comes to an end, thank you for the memories, and thank you for reading. I’m sure we’ll meet again soon (in fact history seems to dictate I might be back here by 2025).
Jeremy Lee was premium content editor at Campaign until January 2021